Vincenzo Nibali attempted to break Sky's stronghold and blow the Tour de France apart today on stage 11. He failed in cracking Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, but saw Cadel Evans crack and the Italian moved up to third overall.
"I was going well, so I waited until the last climb to try to attack," Nibali said after the finish. "There were many team-mates with Wiggins, so I tried to wear them down right away."
Evans, the defending champion and BMC Racing's leader, attempted a long move on the Col de la Croix de Fer. He failed and paid for it when team Liquigas-Cannondale's Nibali began his attacks on the La Toussuire climb to the finish line.
Nibali attacked twice in the 18km Alpine climb, first with 10.7km remaining and again with 9.2km remaining. Sky pulled him back, but had to rely on Chris Froome as Richie Porte faded. Nibali went again. This time, Evans suffered under the effort of Sky's chase and lost ground.
"Vincenzo showed he's getting stronger with the race," Wiggins said in the leader's press conference. "His attacks at the end were pretty severe."
"Two times, one when I saw them returning. I wanted to prevent it and just try to just take advantage of the work, but it was very difficult," Nibali explained. "Chris Froome, like always, showed to be a great domestique. He did most of the work"
He joined with earlier attackers, Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol), Janez Brajkovic (Astana) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat). It forced Wiggins and Froome to lift the pace further. They caught the Italian from Sicily with just less than four kilometres remaining, when the climb eased.
Evans trailed in at around 1 minute, 30 seconds. Nibali failed to crack Sky, but pushed himself into third overall. He trails Froome by only 18 seconds and leads Evans by 56 seconds.
"There were a lot of hard blows today. We were all tired, it was normal," Nibali continued. He was pleased with his time, but not so much. "Yeah, it's important, but Sky's still there and keeps showing to be a great team."
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
Roche ready to achieve career-long Tour top ten ambition
Wiggins: 'I'm not some s**t rider that's come from nowhere
Nibali hits out at Wiggins after Tour frustration
Cavendish enjoying new Tour role
Wiggins taking nothing for granted in 'dream scenario'
Sky keeping Tour focus on Wiggins
Di Gregorio arrested by police at Tour de France
Daniel Martin courts King of the Mountains jersey
Wiggins' special yellow Tour de France skinsuit
Tony Martin abandons Tour de France
Wiggins proud of Tour time trial stage win
Wiggins lashes out after doping accusations
Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list
Tour 2012: Who will win?
Tour de France 2012 provisional start list
Tour de France 2012 team list
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour
Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT
Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks
Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage
Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials
CW's Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage 10 by Graham Watson
Stage nine by Graham Watson
Stage eight by Graham Watson
Stage seven by Graham Watson
Stage six by Graham Watson
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Stage 10 live coverage
Stage nine live coverage
Stage six live coverage
Stage five live coverage
Stage four live coverage
Stage three live coverage
Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: TV schedule
ITV4 live schedule
British Eurosport live schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever
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